What does it take to be a Film Director, and is this an attainable career?
I am interested in being a film director, but I do not know if this is something I should seriously pursue. I love watching movies and documentaries on how movies are made, but I don't know if I could actually make it in the film production world. I don't want to chase an unrealistic dream.
I spent most of my 20's trying every job around the job of the director because I didn't see any other women in that role. I didn't think the profession was meant for me. But the more I worked jobs around the director (producer/cinematographer) the more I realized I thought more like a director than most of the directors I was working with.
When I read a script I see each moment play out as actual shots in my mind. When I mentioned this to a producer friend of mine they told me, "You know, that's really more of a what a director does." The lightbulb went on and I began pursuing this career path relentlessly.
Some skills that have helped me and I continue to develop are:
- Creative Problem Solving: Sometimes what you imagined in your head does not align with the locations you can afford. Or maybe the grand finale of the script isn't feeling so grand.
- Communication: As the director, your job is to communicate a clear and precise vision to everyone you work with (Producer, Actors, DP's, Production Designer, AD, Editor, Sound, etc). Everyone learns differently so you need to hone the craft of communication and get whatever is stuck in your head out in front of people in an actionable way. Some people are visual learners, some people like to be told a story, some people need inspirational examples, and some people need to feel it. How do you communicate the same message in all those different formats to all those different people with all those different styles of learning?
- Storytelling: An obvious one but necessary in literally every profession that exists in the world. I am ALWAYS working on this skill set and won't ever perfect it.
- Sales: This might come as a surprise but I spend a lot of my time selling ideas to Executive Producers, Agencies, Companies, etc. There's a degree of showmanship and passion I bring to every project. I can see it so clearly and my job is to get these people to see it too.
- Empathy: No matter who you're working with and what story you're telling you desperately need empathy in everything you do. How do I tell the story of a villain unless I understand who the villain is? How do I care for the actors so they deliver the best performance possible? How do I support and encourage the crew to deliver their best work in the time they have?
If you feel like these are skill sets you have or at the very least are willing to hone for the rest of your career, then this could be right for you. Like any artistic profession there is a lot of heartache along the way. Your ability to learn from it, adjust, and move forward will be the single determining factor of your success. I wish you the best of luck!
I'll start by saying that I'm not an artist or even have much of an artistic talent.
First I would say, that in any competitive field there are two things that count: Talent and Dedication. Obviously people who are talented tend to have it easier in a given field. However, people not so talented but with great dedication (arguably a talent on itself) may achieve great results as well.
Second I would add that in any competitive field there are different levels of achievement and different individuals may find satisfaction and realization at different levels of achievement. In some techno-artistic field such as movie making there is a whole spectrum of achievement levels. There are big shot Hollywood directors, a very select group, but even they have many less known assistants. Then there are independent directors, tv show directors, YouTube channel directors and so on. If you find that you are passionate about directing movies, making movies; you may find realization across the whole spectrum of levels of achievement.
I can confidently answer the second part of your question: Yes, it is a totally attainable carrier, absolutely. As to the first part of the question: ("How") There are specific academic paths that would lead you there and you should try if you feel you have what it takes. I don't know what those paths are but I'm sure you will receive great advise here.
For now I recommend to ask yourself:
1- How do I feel about telling others what to do?
2- Am I a leader?
3- Do I think there is a better way to frame "that picture"?
4- Do I whish I had a camera when "that" happened?
5- How do I feel about starting a YouTube channel?
Good Luck !!!
Great question! First off, I don't think that any dream is unrealistic as long as you have a clear picture of what that dream really entails! In this line of thinking, my first recommendation to you would to start connecting now with anyone that you can who has experience in the industry so that you can develop your understanding of what a Film Director does and what it takes to become one. Even if you don't know anyone in the industry, here are a few places you could reach out to:
- Local college/university film department: All colleges have representatives from various departments to speak with prospective students. You could ask to be connected with current students in the program or professors to ask them about the educational path towards becoming a director.
- Local TV/news station: while this is obviously different than directing a major film, all stations have Directors, and some of them may be open to you job shadowing or a brief interview to talk about the skills needed to be a director and the different careers that might be related.
- Youth Film Festivals: There are a number of organizations that support youth in making films, such as NFFTY (you can see others here: https://www.socapa.org/about/film-festivals-for-teens-youth). Even if you aren't submitting a film, getting involved with organizations like these will help you make connection with other youth as well as adults that can help you navigate the industry.
Best of luck!